Minor league success in Toronto suggests promising future for Maple Leafs

By John-Eric Iannicello

Photo: Greg McKegg (92) was the lone prospect to represent the Leafs at the 2012 Memorial Cup. (Terry Wilson/CHL Images)

 

It's been a long time since a team in Toronto has played meaningful hockey in the Spring months. The Toronto Marlies have changed those fortunes this season with a strong year that has translated into a lengthy post-season run that has seen the club play in the Calder Cup finals. Led by a handful of solid prospects, the Toronto Maple Leafs hope the recent post-season run by the Marlies will translate into more NHL ready players as soon as next season.

AHL

As mentioned above, the Marlies have been a major bright spot in another forgettable season for the Maple Leafs. Finishing second in the Western Conference standings with 96 points, the Marlies have received big performances from key prospects such Ben Scrivens, Matt Frattin, Nazem Kadri, Jerry D'Amigo, and Jake Gardiner.

Goaltender Scrivens has put on a clinic himself throughout the post-season, leading most goaltending categories with a 1.79 goals against average to go with a .940 save percentage through 15 games. Scrivens also was awarded the Holmes Memorial Award for the goaltender who allowed the fewest goals against in the regular season.

Frattin has been the clubs standout performer up until he suffered a season ending knee injury which required surgery and approximately six months of rehab. The 24-year-old forward, who spent most of the season with the Marlies, was putting on a dominant post-season performance scoring a league leading 10 goals in 13 games.

Kadri and D'Amigo were two of the Marlies most effective players throughout the opening rounds of the Calder Cup playoffs. Kadri was among the team leader in points with 10 through 11 playoff games before succumbing to injury against Oklahoma. Meanwhile a healthy D'Amigo sits fifth in AHL playoff scoring with eight goals and 13 assists in 15 playoff games. D'Amigo has been one of the clubs go-to players defensively and has been rewarded with various shorthanded opportunities and empty-net goals due to his commitment to strong defensive play and tenacious work ethic.

While Jake Gardiner has had to adjust to the rigorous of an extended pro season, the 21-year-old defender is the league leader in playoff scoring by a defenseman. He currently sits at two goals and 11 points in 15 playoff games.

WHL

Super-pest Brad Ross was the lone standout performer for the Maple Leafs system in the Western Hockey League. His Portland Winterhawks made it all the way to the Ed Chynoweth Cup (WHL Championship), before falling to the Edmonton Oil Kings in seven games. The recently turned 20-year-old notched 12 goals, and 10 assists in 22 playoffs games with the Winterhawks.

OHL

Greg McKegg was the lone junior prospect to go the distance for the Maple Leafs this post season. Benefitting from a late-season trade to the London Knights, McKegg's Knights made it all the way to the Memorial Cup after winning the J. Ross Robertson Cup (OHL Championship).  He contributed a modest four goals and seven assists in 15 games. He didn't find the net consistently enough in the Memorial Cup, scoring only once in four tournament games. He's since joined the Marlies, but has yet to figure into a game.

Andrew Crescenzi also had a quietly strong playoff finishing third in forward scoring for the Kitchener Rangers with four goals and 11 points of his own in 15 games. The Rangers fell to the Knights in OHL Western Conference Championship.

USHL

Tony Cameranesi had a disappointing post-season after being a primary contributor for the Waterloo Black Hawks during the regular season. In 15 games he only scored once and added five assists. He had 18 goals and 42 points in 55 regular season games.

Europe

Defenseman Petter Granberg had the benefit of playing in the SEL Championship this season, the second time in consecutive years that Farjestad made it to the SEL finals. Unfortunately, Farjestad was defeated in six games of the best-of-seven series and Granberg finished with a silver medal. The defensive-defenseman finished with one goal and one assists in 19 games.

Prospect Signings

The Maple Leafs have made a handful of signings since the conclusion of the NHL season. First, they dipped into the college free-agent pool and signed Hobey Baker finalist Spencer Abbott from the University of Maine. The 24-year-old had scored 21 goals and 62 points in 39 games this season. The club then went on to sign a selection of their own draft picks which included Brad Ross, Sam Carrick, Petter Granberg, and 25-year-old Leo Komarov who played for Finland at the recent World Championships. The Maple Leafs did not extend contract offers to forwards Josh Nicholls, Sondre Olden, or Daniel Brodin who were all selected in the 2010 NHL entry-draft.

 

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